Vermont Negligence Laws
Maybe it was a fender bender in traffic on your way to Smugglers Notch State Park. Or maybe you slipped on your neighbor's property that they never shovel. Either way, if you're injured and you think it was someone else's fault, you may be asking yourself if you can make a negligence claim.
So how does such a claim work, and what are the laws in Vermont regarding how much you can get for your injuries?
Continue reading for a brief summary of negligence laws in Vermont.
General Negligence Law
Negligence describes a situation when someone owes a duty to another person and fails in that duty, therefore becoming liable for any resulting injuries. For instance, a restaurant owner who mops the slippery floor and doesn't put up a "Wet Floor" sign could be considered negligent.
Elements of a Negligence Case
There are several elements of a negligence case you must prove in court in order for your negligence claim to be successful:
- Duty: the other party owed you a duty of care,
- Breach of Duty: the other party failed to meet that duty,
- Cause in Fact: but for the other party's failure, you would not have been injured,
- Proximate Cause: the other party's failure (and not something else) caused your injury, and
- Damages: you have actually been injured and suffered some loss.
Vermont Negligence Laws
Vermont negligence laws follow the doctrine of modified comparative negligence.
This rule states that if you're hurt in an accident and the accident was partially your fault, you still have a right to compensation for your injuries. But if you were 51 percent or more responsible for the accident, you are barred from recovering anything at all for your injuries. If you were 50 percent or less responsible and are successful in proving the elements of a claim for negligence (that are referenced above), you will be able to recover for your damages. However, those damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
The chart below highlights some of the main parts of Vermont's negligence laws. See Negligence: Background for a general overview of negligence, as well.
|Code Section||Tit. 12 §1036|
If an accident was partially your fault, you still have a right to compensation for your injuries. But if you were 51 percent or more responsible for the accident, you are barred from recovering anything at all. If you were 50 percent or less responsible and are successful in proving the elements of a claim for negligence ( (that are referenced above), you will be able to recover for your damages. However, your damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.
|Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery||Contributory negligence is not a bar on recovery if negligence was not greater than the total negligence of all defendants. However, damages will be lessened in proportion to the amount of negligence that is attributed to the party bringing the claim.|
|Contribution Among Tortfeasors||No|
Note: State negligence laws are always subject to change, usually through legislation, ballot initiative, or court ruling. Contact a Vermont personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law:
Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about laws in Vermont, including those related to negligence:
- Vermont Code
- At Official State Codes, you'll find links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Negligence Laws : Related Resources
Consider reviewing the following resources, as well, for more information about negligence, including the legal theories of contributory and comparative negligence:
More Questions About Vermont Negligence Laws? Get Answers from an Attorney
In many cases, it's not clear who's at fault until after a lawsuit is filed and additional information is discovered. If you or a family member have had injuries resulting from an accident, it's important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to determine your rights under Vermont law and whether you can recover any compensation for your injuries. Contact a Vermont personal injury attorney today for a review of your case and to see what legal options are available.
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